The tiny village of Wa-Ryongri is not far from the town of Kinje, close to Gunsan in south-west Korea. Yong I-Choi, son of the mayor of Kinje, was born there on 27 th July 1923. It was only in his teens, as an aspiring fighter-pilot training in Japan, that the future founder of Kyokushin Karate was to adopt the name by which he is remembered today, Masutatsu Oyama.
Sosai Oyama passed away on 26 th April 1994. He was 70 years old and suffering from lung cancer. Kancho Shokei Matsui was named as his successor and is currently the head of the International Karate Organisation. Under his guidance, and in the benign shadow of its great founder, the IKO has grown into the largest karate organization in the world. Out of the original, close-knit Kyokushin family has emerged a formidable diaspora.